Brewers: How is Keston Hiura Doing Down in AAA Nashville?
By Josh Waldoch
Keston Hiura’s slow start to the 2021 season was perhaps the largest disappointment of the Brewers season so far. After a strong 2019 season, Keston Hiura slumped last season, and in the first month of the 2021 season, he slashed .212/.297/.410. His wRC+ was a measly 47, 53% below league average.
The Brewers Opening Day first baseman has not had an ideal start to the season, on the field or off. But early signs in Nashville show Hiura is beginning to return to form.
Hiura was optioned down to AAA Nashville back on May 4th, but did not appear in a game until May 13th, taking time to visit his mom who is battling cancer. In his first four games down, he has spent all of his time at first base, a position he still must gain familiarity with.
In Hiura’s four games, he has 19 total plate appearances, and is slashing .250/.368/.500, with all four of his hits being doubles. Hiura also has drawn two walks in his time in Nashville, while striking out seven times.
There are good things to see coming out of Hiura’s time in AAA, but he continues to have an exceptionally high K% of 36.8%. Hiura does have a wRC+ of 130 in Nashville, which is a positive.
Hiura’s swinging strike% is 15.8%, which is the lowest since his time in AAA back in 2019. While a small sample size, Hiura does appear to be making contact, and appears to be getting a better grasp of the plate discipline that was avoiding him in Milwaukee.
Keston does not walk much, his career BB% in the majors is 6.9%, but he is walking at a 10.5% clip in his small sample size in AAA.
Hiura was projected to be the Brewers second best hitter this season behind Christian Yelich, and his absence in the lineup is very clear. This leads to the real question: When will we see Keston Hiura back in Milwaukee?
Since Hiura was sent down, the Brewers manning first base (mainly Vogelbach and Shaw) have the 4th worst wRC+ in all of baseball, at a not so nice 69 and are slashing .191/.278/.331.
However, despite the struggles, there is no clear timeline for Hiura. He is down to focus on pitch recognition and getting his stroke back. Hopefully it will not be a long stop down, but it may very well be early June before he makes his return to Milwaukee.
Throughout his time in college and in the minors, Keston was lauded for his hitting ability, and that does not disappear overnight. Hiura still is talented, he has to find his stroke again, and early returns from Nashville show that might be happening sooner rather than later.